Off to the (Virginia Fall) Races

This Saturday, October 10th, the Virginia Fall Races will be held at Glenwood Park here in Middleburg.  Glenwood is a fantastic venue – just outside of town, and there are no bad seats to be found!  It’s easy for guests to get close to the action along the courses and at the paddock.

Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, 2011. (Photo courtesy of VA Fall Races)
Virginia Fall Races at Glenwood Park, 2011 (photo courtesy of VA Fall Races)

We here at the NSLM take care of the literature, art, and history of sports like steeplechasing. But we also love to celebrate the sport today. Steeplechases, or jump races, are generally held on grass tracks, often with somewhat hilly terrain, over fences of brush, timber (wood), and sometimes water jumps. The horses are thoroughbreds and many of them got their start racing on the flat. They are generally older and a bit sturdier than their cousins and siblings at the flat racing tracks. And the jockeys don’t have to be the size of Derby winner Victor Espinoza (he’s 5’2″), but instead can be quite tall.

The Fall race meet at Glenwood is a particularly special one. The feature race of the day is the National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, which is held in memory of NSLM founders George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., and George L. Ohrstrom, Jr.

Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 - 1955) by Erik Guide Haupt (American, 1891 - 1984), oil on canvas Gift of the Ohrstrom Family
Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Sr. (1894 – 1955)
by Erik Guide Haupt (American, 1891 – 1984), oil on canvas
Gift of the Ohrstrom Family
Thomas S. Buechner (American, 1926 - 2010) Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 - 2005) oil on canvas, 40 x 30 ¼ inches Gift of the Ohrstrom Family, 2003
Portrait of George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. (1927 – 2005), by Thomas S. Buechner (American, 1926 – 2010), oil on canvas
Gift of the Ohrstrom Family, 2003

The Virginia Fall Races were founded not long after the NSLM (founded as the National Sporting Library in 1954). In 1955, George L. Ohrstrom, Sr., who was president of the Orange County Hounds, and Mrs. Theodora A. Randolph, the famous horsewoman and Master of the Piedmont Foxhounds for 40 years, worked together to create a new race meet for Virginia.  Sadly, Mr. Ohrstrom passed away just a month after the first October races. His son, George L. Ohrstrom, Jr., carried on supporting the races and the sport of steeplechasing. Today the Ohrstrom family continues to support the sport and sponsors the NSLM Cup.

The NSLM Cup is a timber race run over a long 3 and 1/4 miles course. The race is open to horses 4 years old and up – and a whopping 17 entries have been nominated to run this year.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup Elkington & Co., London, 1920, sterling silver Gift of Juliana May, 2014
National Sporting Library & Museum Cup
Elkington & Co., London, 1920, sterling silver
Gift of Juliana May, 2014

The beautiful sterling silver NSLM Cup perpetual trophy will be awarded to the winner, and their names will be engraved on the base. New this year is a gorgeous “keeper” trophy. The owners of the winning horse will receive a stunning sterling silver salver (flat tray with small feet on the bottom) – for keeps! Generously donated by Juliana May, this piece was crafted by English silversmiths William Hutton & Sons, in 1930. It was engraved this year for the 2015 race.

National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, 2015 Winner’s Trophy William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, England, 1930, sterling silver Gift of Juliana May, 2015
National Sporting Library & Museum Cup, 2015 Winner’s Trophy
William Hutton & Sons, Sheffield, England, 1930, sterling silver
Gift of Juliana May, 2015

Post time for the races is 1 pm. But come to town early and see fox hunters from around the country compete in the Theodora A. Randolph Field Hunter Championship on the infield. Or come to the NSLM to see great examples of steeplechasing in art – before you go see the real thing!

Cecil Aldin (English, 1870 – 1935) The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1923 photogravure, 13 x 25 inches Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock, 1996
Cecil Aldin (English, 1870 – 1935)
The Grand National Series: No. 3, Valentine’s Brook, c. 1923, photogravure
Gift of Dr. Laura Jane Schrock, 1996
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958) The Last Fence, Pickering, 1934 pencil on paper Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013
Paul Brown (American, 1893-1958)
The Last Fence, Pickering, 1934, pencil on paper
Gift of Boots Wright in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Richard E. Riegel, 2013

When you get to Glenwood, come visit us on the rail at spot A23!

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